In accordance to Hollywood’s tenet that any expensive and successful film be followed by an equally or more expensive sequel, “Iron Man 2” slammed into our local theatres Friday.
Robert Downey Jr. returns to reprise his role of Tony Stark/Iron Man alongside an all-star cast including Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mickey Rourke starring as the main antagonist, Ivan Vanko.
Unfortunately, while the film is sure to please comic book fans, as it pulls many of its scenarios and characters from Iron Man’s comic history, the film loses steam after only half an hour. Like many other films in the superhero sequel genre, the film’s director, Jon Favreau, attempts to address too many conflicts and ends up with too little time for any one of them to culminate to a solid conclusion.
What truly is a shame is how this misappropriation of priorities in the film damages the pivotal element that all thrillers revolve around – the role of the villain.
As Roger Ebert said, “Each [thriller] is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph.”
Iron Man/Tony Stark is an analogy of the American dream – which for some is rugged individualism empowered by ingenuity and resourcefulness. Vanko is introduced as Stark’s dark mirror, equally knowledgeable and skilled, but without the affluence Stark was born into. While Stark busies himself with his narcissistic excess and his ever-growing popularity, Vanko helplessly watches his own father, a former colleague of the elder Stark, die destitute and unknown.
This conflict shows so much promise as Vanko – a tragic figure plotting revenge on a man who doesn’t know he exists – tries to tear down Stark with the same tools he has used to build his fame and fortune. But, what starts out looking like a dramatic battle of wills, intellect, and technology between the two men, only later deteriorates into a long lull with a disappointing, cliché ending.
Vanko is defeated within the first half hour of the film and the rest of film is spent discrediting his motives and character. Stark is busy dealing with a minor bout of alcoholism and deteriorating health, courting his former secretary, and his best friend stealing one of his other Iron Man suits.
In the end, when Vanko makes a comeback, and is quickly defeated again, it is a very empty climax to the film.
Note: to any “super villain” who might be reading this review, do not place blinking, beeping alarms on your secret bombs. It might just give your local do-gooders too much time to disarm them or escape.
On another note, Jackson’s cameo as Nick Fury created an unneeded divergence in the storyline. I can understand Marvel is trying to create a common element shared between their various super hero films, but he only served to diminish Stark’s role as a super hero. Fury was a reminder to Stark and the audience that Iron Man is just a player in a larger game.
And, Fury’s eye patch was too big. There, I said it. It looked more like a novelty item you’d see a bartender wearing during a Caribbean Pirate-themed night on a cruise ship – “One salty dog on the rocks, coming up!”
I’ve included a small image to demonstrate how big the eyepatch was, and how big I thought it should have been. It seems a trivial matter, but when your character’s signature prop piece is the wrong size, the rest of the character just appears off-kilter.
I won’t tell you Iron Man 2 isn’t a fun film to watch. It was. I will say it could have been much better – good enough to warrant the price of admission, and good enough to get you to see the sequel to this sequel, which in the end, is probably the only real objective of the studio executives who produced it.
To comment on this review online, visit http://www.myvalleynews.com.She says: “Iron Man 2: a tossup between geeky fun and undeserved anticipation”
Two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by how excited I was after watching the “Iron Man” movie. Actually, now that I think about it, there were very few that didn’t love “Iron Man.” Jon Favreau had teamed up with a slew of writers to create a summer gem that got all of us comic book geeks giggling in anticipation at the thought of more Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr.
However, as time went by, I slowly developed a fear that “Iron Man 2,” written by Justin Theroux and once again directed by Favreau, was going to be awful and completely ruin the comic books for me. Still, there’s an unwritten rule that states if you love a movie, you must sit through its sequel to either relive your romance with the characters or bid them adieu.
In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark (Downey) is his charmingly obnoxious and conceited self. You cannot help but love this billionaire scientist, who has no qualms with telling the world that he and Iron Man are one and the same; therefore, he should receive all the glitz and glamour that comes with “successfully privatizing world peace.”
However, not all is as good as Stark would like it. The arc reactor in Stark’s chest is dually keeping him alive and slowly poisoning him to death. A grumpy U.S. senator (Garry Shandling), with something to prove, wants the Iron Man suit handed over to the government, rival weapons developer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is taking jabs wherever he can, and SHIELD director Nick Fury keeps nagging Stark to join his initiative.
On top of all this, Stark also has an irritated Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and his best friend Lt. Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle, replacing Terrence Howard) and a ‘roid raged, drunken Russian ex-convict Ivan Vank (Mickey Rourke) to deal with.
To make matter worse, Stark only has 124 minutes to do it all in. Granted, all of this action and plot kept me from getting bored, but I think this had a lot to do with the fact that I had so much already invested in Iron Man. To prove my point, my brother, a 19-year-old who didn’t grow up reading the SHIELD or Iron Man comics, found the movie to be boring and slightly predictable, much to my chagrin.
Not to say that this movie was bad; there were a lot of redeeming qualities. Downey must’ve dug deep into his own alcoholic past to play an ailing Stark, whose erratic behavior worsens as his blood’s toxicity level rises.
Additionally, there were little peeks into the SHIELD movie list future, with hints to Captain America and another superhero that kept me bouncing in my chair. How can you not get excited about something that you’ve forgotten about?
I wish that there had been more time to develop Rhodes’ time as War Machine, Natalia Romanova, the Black Widow (played by a very sultry Scarlett Johansson), or even Ivanko as Whiplash. There was so much to the plot, and action happening outside of the Iron Man suit, there was no time for what we all really wanted to see: the action.
To be honest, the “big” fight in the movie left something to be desired, leaving it up to the Black Widow to make a mess in her fight scene.
As the movie wrapped up, I had mixed feelings about seeing another Iron Man film. I would definitely watch Downey as Stark again, but I’m not sure if I really care enough about Stark enough as a person to see him fight with his own personal issues.
I would, however, want to see Stark dealing with more bad guys by blowing things up, however.
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